What are the myths about philosophy

Department of Philosophy and Humanities

Call for Papers: 4th workshop of the GANPH-AG "Philosophical Literature - Literary Philosophy"

19./20. February 2021 - Zoom Conference

The workshop is dedicated to the mutual influence of philosophy and myth in antiquity, with the focus of our consideration on the one hand, to what extent myths fertilize the ancient philosophical discourse, and on the other hand, to what extent philosophical content finds its way into myths.

The corpus of texts that is interesting for our question offers a variety of points of contact. While z. B. Parmenides in his didactic poem About nature Theses on ontology are presented and embedded in a mythical framework narrative, myths are integrated into Plato's dialogues as part of the philosophical argumentation (e.g. in Protagoras or Phaedo). The εἰκὼς μῦθος im Timaeus, with which Plato unfolded a cosmogony through the philosopher of the same name, triggered an intense debate in antiquity and late antiquity not only about questions about the origin of the cosmos itself, but also about the εἰκὼς μῦθος as a means of philosophical argumentation (e.g. Plotinus, Iamblich in discussion with Porphyrios or Calcidius in his Latin translation and commentary).

Basic questions that moved ancient philosophy are also dealt with in myths and literary works. So z. B. Hesiod's report on the creation of the world shows parallels to pre-Socratic cosmologies. We encounter the topos of successive world ages in various elaborations, among others. in Ovids Metamorphoses, with Empedocles, Plato and the Stoics.

The question of the relationship between philosophy and myth also arises on the stage of dramatic literature. Basic experiences of human failure are worked out by the dramatists on the mythical material in the Greek tragedies and effectively staged for the audience as a tragic act that was already Aristotle's poetics considers it more philosophical than the method of historiography. In Seneca's tragedies we find reflexes on fundamental questions from Stoic ethics, which raise critical questions about the relationship between Seneca's philosophical and dramatic writings.

In view of these diverse perspectives, which (late) ancient texts open up on the mutual influence of philosophy and myth, the workshop should include, in methodological terms, It will be problematized whether myth is permissible as a medium of philosophical didactics or whether it should be as free as possible from elements of narrative and metaphor. Can't some philosophical content be conveyed other than through images and analogies? Can myths and images also have their own value for the philosophical argument? In terms of content, we want to pursue questions such as the following: What function do myths have in philosophical argumentation? What philosophical thoughts are hidden behind mythical narratives? Which features enable a distinction between these literary forms and do the boundaries between philosophy and myth have to be redrawn? How do individual ancient authors deal with myths in their philosophy, with philosophy in their myths?

Submissions. Abstracts (300–500 words) for workshop contributions (40–45 minutes presentation and 15–20 minutes discussion) will be provided until December 7th, 2020 to Sandra Erker ([email protected]) and Christopher Izgin ([email protected]) stating the name, the institutional connection and a short CV. Feedback will be sent before Christmas. Lectures in English are expressly welcome.

Workshop participation. Please register by email (see above). In the reply e-mail you will find the zoom link to the workshop, which is required for participation.

organization. Sandra Erker (FU Berlin) and Christopher Izgin (HU Berlin) organize the workshop in cooperation with the head of the working group PD Dr. Dagmar Kiesel (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Dr. Christopher Diez (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg).

Time & place

19./20. February 2021 - Zoom Conference